PARENTS
09/04/2018 12:15 EDT | Updated 09/04/2018 13:37 EDT

Chinese Kindergarten Welcomes Kids Back To School With Pole Dance Show

The school's principal was later fired, according to media reports.

Pole dancing is a great form of exercise. It builds core muscles, increases balance and coordination, and can help boost body confidence.

But should it be performed by scantily clad dancers in front of a group of kindergarten-age children to welcome them back to school? Well, a principal and fuming group of parents in China had rather different views on the matter.

Kids in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen got an eyeful at a kindergarten welcome ceremony on Monday after the principal booked a pole dancer to perform. Videos of the performance at the Xinshahui Kindergarten have been widely shared on social media, and appear to show a woman in hot pants shimmying around a flag pole as young children in school uniforms watch.

In some videos, parents appear to be ushering their children away.

Parents were outraged, and some withdrew their children from the school, BBC reported.

China-based writer Michael Standaert tweeted about the incident at his children's school.

"The principal hung up on my wife when she called after saying it was 'international and good exercise' ... okay, yeah for adults maybe, but not 3-6 year old kids," Standaert wrote.

Various news outlets reported that the Bao'an educational bureau said the performance was "inappropriate" and that Lai was fired as a result. (Bao'an is one of the nine districts comprising the city of Shenzhen.)

"Other schools in the district should reflect on this incident and strictly uphold education standards," the Bao'an education bureau said in a statement, according to CBS News.

In an eventual apology to parents, Lai reportedly said she thought inviting the dancers would "liven up the atmosphere."

"I did not think through the contents of the performance ... It was a very terrible viewing experience for the kids and the parents. For that, I sincerely apologize," Lai said, according to a report on Chinese social media site Weibo (and reported by the Washington Post).

In an interview with the Beijing News, Lai explained that pole dancing had helped her lose 30 pounds that summer, Inkstone News reported.

"Pole dancing is a good sport," she said, according to Inkstone News. "It helps people stretch after staring at the phone for too long."

Kids and pole dancing: not the first controversy

This isn't the first time children and pole dancing have come together and made headlines. In 2012, a B.C. dance and fitness studio made international news for offering a "little spinners" pole dancing class for kids. That class was offered to children as young as five.

"The kid's class is aimed at climbing and holding," studio owner Kristy Craig told CTV News in 2012. "I'm not teaching them any sexual moves."

In 2016, ITV's This Morning aired a segment on children's pole dancing, and viewers denounced it as sexualizing kids.

"I don't doubt for one minute that the girls keep fit. And I also don't doubt that the moves we've just seen are pole dancing rather than pole fitness," psychologist Emma Kenny said on the show, according to The Telegraph.

"I think we are in a culture that sexualizes children ... and whatever way you look at it, it's inextricably linked to sexualization".

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